Beauty and The Beast – A True Classic

Written by on November 20, 2018 in News Flash with 0 Comments

 “She warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.”

Beauty and the Beast has to be one of my all-time favourite stories, and I was surprised to learn that it was actually penned back in 1740 by French writer, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Since then there have been plenty of adaptations of the story – movies and plays and even a TV series, featuring the much-loved characters in different guises.

Of all the film versions (and there have been quite a few), the two Disney adaptations stand out, and are the ones most of us think of when we talk about the movie. The 1991 Disney version of Beauty and the Beast has to be considered a classic in terms of animation. It had a tough act to follow – The Little Mermaid proved to be a monster hit back in 1989 – could an oldie really come back to life and compete against such a powerhouse of a movie? After all it's not every day you come across a singing mermaid that wants to grow legs! But compete it did, in fact some would even profess to like it more.

The animation polished and matched by the mighty musical score (for that we must give a nod to Alan Menken and Howard Ashman who came up with the memorable songs and tunes featured). Add to this the considerable vocal talent of the likes of Angela Lansbury who shone as the kindly Mrs Potts, Paige O’Hara who dazzled as Belle, Robby Benson who pulled off being both fierce and vulnerable as the Beast and Richard White who managed to convince us Gaston was the most despicable villain ever to grace the screen.

Not content with one Beauty and the Beast masterpiece under their belt Disney decided to go for the double, and in 2017 Disney’s Beauty and the Beast would hit the big screen again.

This time Disney would plump for live-action, and the cast would feature Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) as the studious Belle, Dan Stevens as the sullen Beast, and Luke Evans as the contemptible Gaston.  Add to this appearances from renowned thespians Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, and Ian McKellen and you start to get the feeling that this movie could possibly be the Disney movie of all time.

Some thought the project might be too ambitious, but not Disney – they managed to pull it off in true Disney style (as only they know how), managing to add a fresh coat of paint to a traditional tale without dulling the magic of the original. We sang along to the beautifully arranged songs, we rooted for Belle and the Beast as they battled to come to terms with their feelings for one another, and we booed Gaston as he blatantly set out to thwart the path of true love. We fell in love with the characters and the story all over again, and that’s what makes Disney’s Beauty and the Beast a true classic – the fact that we can watch both versions with equal zeal, and that we can watch them over and over again without getting bored!

Bringing Beauty and the Beast to life in the form of figurines and ornaments was nothing less than a pleasure. The Beauty and the Beast figurines from my Jim Shore Disney Traditions range were a joy to design and produce. Someone recently asked me if I had a favourite character from the story, well that’s a tricky one to answer! The characters all have such vibrant personalities and I really wanted to bring through their individual personality traits when creating each piece.

There’s the Cogsworth hanging ornament (you have to admire Cogsworth for his no-nonsense attitude – he’s a stickler for the rules, but gets the job done). Then there’s the Lumiere figurine, a romantic at heart Lumiere the candle stick is flighty by nature and often finds himself at odds with the tightly wound Cogsworth. I also have a fondness for Mrs Potts and Chip, I created this hanging ornament with Mrs Potts caring nature in mind and tried to convey Chip’s cheeky nature too. Of course, it was also wonderful to create figurines of the leading characters – Beauty and her Beast. Belle has such spirit and the Beast reminds us all that we should never judge a book by its cover. A wonderful tale and one which I am sure we will all continue to enjoy for years to come.

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